Kyle has been serving his mission for...

Kyle has been serving his mission for...

Monday, November 26, 2012

Week 9

Hey Hey Hey! :)

It's such a great day! :) Today is my 2 month anniversary here! Feels like it's barely been 2 weeks though, time is flying so fast! So I will get my travel info this Friday hopefully, but if not this Friday, next week for sure. That way I can let you know what time I'll be able to call home and all that jazz! :) I'll probably just call you in the SLC airport since almost everyone here is Mormon anyway and I can save my time in the LA airport (almost all missionaries going to AU fly out from there) for proselyting and giving out the stack of pass along cards and copies of the Book of Mormon I bought that I won't use much in AU because I'll be giving out Chinese ones! :) So yeah, sorry if you only get one phone call, but you will probably be bored after about 10 minutes of talking with me anyways because there's not a whole lot that is new in my life. 

Except, this Thanksgiving was the best I've ever had in my life. Elder Holland came. He wanted us to tell our parents that we are officially in his family now, so he's sorry to tell all the parents they have 1 less child in their families, but he formally adopted all of us hahaha! :) Many of his grandchildren came and they performed some really good songs and piano solo's. He talked about how blessed we are to live in this dispensation because it is the only dispensation from the creation of the world that will not end in apostasy and how all the Prophets of old have looked to this Dispensation for solace since they knew that their dispensations would all end in apostasy until this one. I thought that was a very interesting insight! He also talked about just how blessed we are in general to have what we have in this day and age and for the way that we are currently making history with the missionary work we are doing and how many lives we are changing. 

I keep getting letters from my Mission President (just the weekly mission update/report) and it makes me want to leave right now! :) There are some other Elders leaving for AU today as well and I want to just jump on the plane with them! :) But it's okay, I am content with where I am at for now. I definitely don't have the jitters others do about staying here. It's an amazing experience and I'm so glad to have it, but I also and very excited and ready to get out and start serving and changing lives. Our lessons here have been really really good! In our TRC, we had someone new this week we hadn't seen before, and our teacher said that before he came in, he was frustrated with something and a little upset, but through our lesson, he felt the spirit, and received revelation on what he needed to resolve the situation he was in. Perfect since our lesson was on receiving revelation through the Book of Mormon! :) Also, my lessons with Kim have really settled down and I am able to teach her well now I feel. It was a little rough getting my bases set when I started teaching her alone because I had to go over some things that we had taught in the beginning that she didn't understand and had to figure out how the best way to teach alone is. But i worked out the kinks and now she is really progressing well! It still is quite weird to think of how unique my whole situation here is at the MTC. Pretty sure if people heard that I taught alone in a room with an investigator they would think I am the worst and most disobedient missionary in the world haha but I'm just doing what they've said I need to do, so it brings comfort to know that I'm obeying the rules! :) 

I've realized how important it is to teach to the investigators needs, AND their learning style. I hadn't thought about that much, but people have different learning styles, and once you can figure out how best to present the info to others, it really helps them to understand, and to think about what you are presenting, so that way they can feel the spirit. I dont know exactly how the Spirit works, but I do believe that when people understand enough to have more questions and to ponder what we are teaching, the Spirit speaks to them more. For example, I came up with a really good example of how we cannot clean our own sins from our lives by using a hankey (thanks Dad for making sure I had those! :)) that I rubbed a rolo all over so that it was very stained and dirty, then handing Kim a "tide-to-go" pen which is renowned for removing stains I asked her to clean the hankey so that it was white again. She wasn't able to get much of the stain out at all and that is when I talked about how this white hankey is like our soul. Throughout our lives, we will accrue "stains" by sin and in order to return and Live with God, we need to be pure and perfectly clean, Thus, we need to take this hankey to someone who has the ability to get the stains out. This is our Savior Jesus Christ. I was pretty excited about how she was much better able to understand the need for our Savior because she asked. "how can Christ help me today, as you have promised, when He lived 2000 years ago?" Anyways, I just wanted to share that little example of how object lessons, drawing pictures, relating to modern day life and teaching simply enough for a child to undertsand the lesson brings the spirit in a lot more and helps us to truly help the investigators to come unto Christ. 

This week has been absolutely amazing! I had the Best Thanksgiving of my life since I have never felt so rich, blessed, and filled with the spirit in an entire day. I also received a great package on Friday, and will get one from Michelle today I'm assuming so I'm really excited! :) Packages are pretty great, but they are going to be very expensive to send to AU im afraid, thus, when I leave, I decree that ya'll cant send me any more packages kay? Cool, glad that's settled! ;) For Christmas, I just want a picture or two and maybe 1 christmas Orange from Mom and Dad. I LOVE THOSE THINGS! :) Also, if you do send the Christmas Orange, please also send the Christmas Orange Story since I pretty much cry every time I read that story. It's true :b Mom, regarding the Music. I LOVE Mormon Tabernacle and any piano music you can find at Deseret Book that is good I would love, but really, dont feel like you need to :) I love you all SOOOOOO much. This gospel is all about Eternal Families and I have the best one every created by the Master's Hand. I love you all so much!
With great Love,
Elder Shafer

Me at the Service Project. We made about 2500 Education kits and 4500 Health Kits for the People of Ouelessebougou, in Mali, Africa! :) It was pretty cool stuff!

This is Elder Lynch and I, He and I grew up together and then His family moved to Walla Walla when I was...... 8? Not sure exactly, but He's a pretty awesome missionary!

My first bite of some amazing treats Anika sent me for Thanksgiving. THANKS!!!! :) They are delicious!

My little Thanksgiving turkey! :) We all made them as a class quickly to write some things we were thankful for.

They set up a little Nativity set, so I had to get a picture by it of course! :)

Just chillin out by the Christmas lights after dinner :)

I also got a nice packet of straws and some more Tim-Tams from Anika, so now I can use the straws when I need to "suck it up." And I can keep those Tim Tam Slams a-coming! :)

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Week 8

Hello!!! :)
Another absolutely fantastic week here at the MTC. Can't believe it's only 3 weeks from today until I'll be leaving for AU! :) :) :) Time is absolutely flying by! This week we have very exciting news! For Thanksgiving they are doing a very special day and having a bunch of humanitarian projects and all that jazz going on, but also.... we are promised an Apostle will be here for Thursday morning devotional :) We've had Elder Bednar come before so this will be my second Apostle I'll see. We are planning to wait in the building and just study and talk about the things we are thankful for, so we can get seats as soon as we can so we can, hopefully in the second row.  As you know, I'm very quick in moving through crowds (safely, i promise! :)) and so I think we have pretty good chances of snagging the second row seats. I've gotten them before when members of the 70 have come. We had Elder Shane Bowen and Elder Echo Hawk of the 70 come this past month or so and I was really close for both of them. So I'm pretty excited! :) 

I will try to take a good photo of just me in my suit for the Stake board and I'll send that today. The map picture will definitely be on it's way as well. That's a tradition here as well to take a picture in front of that, so I will get around to it before I leave.  Also, thanks so much for the packages sent this week. Michelle and Dad mentioned they were shipped off so we will see which one get's here first! :) the race is on! :b Really, all the love and letters mean so much! I have no idea how long it will take for packages to get to AU and I know they will be much more expensive, so I don't want any sent at all. Same for my Christmas and my birthday in the future. I don't need anything that the Lord hasn't already given me. I was actually thinking about that yesterday. Why in the world is my life so fantastic?? It seems that I dont have any of the trials and troubles you hear of almost every day here. I have a perfect family, I have many friends and associates who love and support me, I have no worries about my financial future or health problems I can forsee as being problems in life, I have the opportuninty to BE A MISSIONARY!! :) That's a big one. but just the Gospel in general...... Why was I blessed with SOOOO much when it seems that so many others I hear of face tremendous trials of deaths in the family, abuse, severe depression, injuries, health problems and the list goes on and on..... I really can't explain why I am so blessed but I try to be grateful that I am and I try to be humble but I'm afraid I am in desperate need of more humility and some more refinement.  

I really love my time and experiences here. If I'm already having such a great time here I can't even fathom how it will be in Australia! I really hope my companion and I can serve together in the field because he is honestly just awesome! He's really humble (a great example to me) and is willing and ready to work every day. He's also a pretty funny elder as well so that's always nice also. His family life is very good and he mentions often how much he loves them. I think it's extremely hard for missionaries to leave home when they have younger siblings. I know that it would be way harder on me if I had younger siblings to leave so I greatly respect those that are willing to make that sacrifice. It was hard for Mark to leave because he's been my best bud from before this life and in it, but I didn't think about how much harder it must have been for you Markus :) Glad you manned up and served your mission because you're an amazing example to me!! 

Last night we watched this amazing 8 minute clip about the NY, NY south and North missions and all the actions they are doing with regard to hurricane Sandy. They showed it last night as part of the fireside and it was really touching to see how much of an effect the missionaries and the LDS members of that area are having. It's interesting and a blessing to know that the Lord always sends relief so quickly. I was really impressed as well about the reactions others had regarding to church. They interviewed many of the residents and although not a single one seemed like they knew much about who we were, they were touched by what we were doing and I think some major seeds were planted. Of course this isn't the only reason I'm sure of why we should perform service like this, but it reminds me of President Joseph Smith's quote about "service being pure religion." Or maybe that was Brigham Young..... oops! :) Perhaps you all can find that one out ;)  Love you all so much!! Thank you so much for your prayers and thoughts in my behalf. I'm so caught up in the work here that I don't even really think about the letters or expect anything, and that's why it's always a very pleasant surprise! :)


Elder Shafer

I love taking a picture of the temple each morning after I attend on Mondays, so you'll likely get some random scenery pictures :)

Like SO :)

And a goofy picture of my current District

Monday, November 12, 2012

Week 7

Hello Hello!!
This week has been an absolutely amazing week! I can't believe im starting week 8 here at the MTC!!! They do weeks in an interesting fashion since my first week technically started from day 1 in the MTC so it was only half a week, and week 12 will be the day that I leave, so I only have 4 more weeks here! Time has flown!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Thinking about leaving to Sydney in less than a month gives me a mix of emotions. Part of me wants to jump on a plane right now so I can preach what I know to be true and see the change in others' lives, while another part of me thinks I need to stay and learn how to be a better missionary and learn the language better. I know that I am progressing well and the language continues to come at a steady rate. My teacher and I recently had an interview ( they do that about every week or so in order to make sure we are progressing well and counsel with us) and she mentioned that she has seen my learning keep on a steady climb which she felt was a very good thing because when she was in the MTC, her learning ebbed and flowed. So I guess that's good right?? :)  It's hard to see the amount that I am learning from day to day, but every once in a while I will get a glimpse of how much I have improved. For instance, last Saturday, we had TRC where volounteers come in. We taught 4 volounteers who spoke very good Cantonese since 1 is from Hong Kong and the other 3 served there, and I understood a LOT of what they said. I was very surprised! It was good to see the improvement and the blessings that pay off from hard work, but I know i still need to remain humble and all of the thanks and glory go to My Father in Heaven. 

Elder Whilte, my new companion is the BEST!! He's everything I've been praying for and more. This Elder has humility like nobody else I've ever met. The first night here, i was helping him review some things and teaching him a couple pointers to help out and he stopped me and said "Elder, I think I need to pray before I can learn more." So we knelt down and he offered the most pleading and begging prayer I've heard in my life. It was as if he were bowing at the Lord's throne and pleading for help and mercy. The spirit infused my sould and I knew that this elder was called to be here and that the Lord expects me to help him. I had the greatest desire to help him in any way that I can and I realized how special this Elder is to the Lord. It was a humbling experience for me as well as for him. 

I have a testimony that the Lord calls his missionaries when are where they are to be called. There is no coincidence here in missionary work. Our investigators are coming along well. Please pray for us and Fuhng Taai. She's had problems with her husband being supportive to her receiving the lessons, and she is ready for baptism, but she can't receive it without his approval, and she greatly fears if she talks to him about it, he will leave her and her daughter. From what she has said, he doesn't sound like a very good and supportive husband, but we have no idea how to proceed right now. When she mentioned this, I told her to not talk to him yet, but that we would fast for her and that when we meet next Tuesday, we will discuss what the Lord's will is. I still don't know what I am to say to her after having fasted and prayed greatly, but I trust in the Lord that he will inform us through the Spirit in the moment of our need. Michelle, I wanted to say thank you to you and Chris for your desire and efforts in helping the missionaries! Having members present is such a wonderful tool to use in the conversion process of investigators! I really want to do that when I get home. I hope I will always be missionary minded even after my mission. I LOVE THIS WORK!!

 I am having such an amazing and life changing experience out here on the Mission. Thank you so much for your constant thoughts and prayers. I have been praying that the Lord will bless me by blessing my family and friends back home but I keep seeing blessings being showered upon me. I pray and say something like "Father, I have more than enough, please, other's need my blessings more than I do, bless them instead of me," but I have a hard time believing He's honoring my request since I keep seeing blessing upon blessing poured out upon me. But I guess this is because you are all praying for me and He honors your prayers. I have developed a much closer relationship with my Father and encourage all to do so. Pray is an amazing tool and I feel so close to my Father when I address Him in prayer. I love the song "A child's prayer" where it states "pray, He is there, Speak, He is listening." because I know that is 100% true. He listens to our pleas and answers with more love and admiration I ever thought possible. I love you all and love my Savior Jesus Christ for granting me this opportunity to serve Him and become more like He is.
Elder Shafer

He was also able to send us a few pictures! (He is just so cute, but I am just a little biased!)

The first couple are with my Cantonese District and the Older District. Sister Larson is the small one that always does peace signs, Sister Palmer has the long dark hair, And sister Ainge is the other Cantonese Sister. Elder Staheli is my old companion ( he doesn't smile a whole lot, but is a pretty happy guy still! :) ) and then there's Brother Fogt and Sister Black, they are 2 of the teachers here.  We have a new teacher, Sister Farr, and guess what? She's Emma Smith in the new Joseph Smith movie playing at SLC temple square!! I think that's pretty cool! The other teacher isn't shown here, shes a native though. Anika has a picture with her in it when we met the Ambassador from Australia and Sri Lanka to the U.S. You can ask her to scan a copy of it and email it to you, we felt like royalty :) My new companion, Elder White is shown in a couple with me. and the other random people are English Elders who really like me (for some reason) and so they wanted some pictures with me.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Week 6

Hello Fam and Friends!

Another fantastic week here.  This week was really cool! We had an absolutely amazing lesson with one of our investigators, Fong Tai. She is absolutely loving meeting with us and is really learning a lot and strengthening her testimony, but unfortunately her husband is really against the church, and so last Thursday we had an awesome lesson where she really opened up and talked about how she wants to keep going but informed us more about her husband. We were all crying and bearing our testimonies about the Atonement of Christ and how through patience, faith, and examples, we believed that her husband's heart and viewpoints towards the church could be softened and changed. It was an amazing experience! I love teaching our investigators here, it's so great! 

This week I've been a ping-pong ball between companionships. I feel like every other hour im getting handed off to a different companionship because Elder Kimzi (my companion who had to stay for pneumonia) actually got cleared and left on Friday morning. Sister Larson has continued to have more doctor appointments and different things she had to go to so I was with the English Elders a ton while her and Sister Palmer completed the business they needed to do. It was a little frustrating though because they are on a different schedule than I am and it has affected my studies a little bit. But that's okay, this week I will get my new companion so I wont have to keep jumping around with others and get my schedule thrown off all the time. 

I am so glad to hear that everyone back East is safe and sound!!! They have been in my prayers and thoughts. and many other's in the MTC as well. I saw sister Whittle on several occasions this week! It's so crazy how many different people you see here that you know! it's really weird to think that her mom was my seminary teacher, and now we are both serving missions at the same time! 

Yesterday, was fast sunday and we had mission conference. Talk about amazing! I love Sundays here. By far the best Sundays I've ever had and Fast and Testimony Sunday's here are even better. There are so many missionaries that have absolutely amazing testimonies and have had tons of miracles in their lives. It's very humbling and rewarding to hear about. My favorite part about Sundays though is the evening here because we have a fireside which is always super sweet! and then we get to watch past MTC addresses by General Authorities, or a movie about Jospeh Smith, or the SLC temple or something else. It's a great way to finish off the evening in my book. 

This week we started our role plays, and I role played Evan and it was really cool! I prayed to have the spirit help me to act and answer as he would, and I really felt like I was! I started to act differently, and ask questions that I believe He would ask and acted how I believed he would. The cool thing was that my teacher was watching and evaluating and she said comments and was able to pick out characteristics very specific because she felt like she could see him act this way. It was a really great experience and we were able to learn a lot! One thing that I learned from it is that the first lessson, or first contact with people needs to be 100% about them. Finding out about who they are, what they enjoy, what they expect to be able to learn from meeting with you, and how they think you can be of help to them. We talked about how one of the biggest goals in a first visit or contact is just getting a return appointment. Because even if you teach the entire first lesson, if they dont feel like you've answered their questions or have appeased their needs, they may not want you to come back so then, it's not worth too much teaching them the first lesson if they dont want you to come back. I'm starting to realize more and more that being a missionary is less about teaching, and more about listening and helping! If your investigators feel that you love them, and are wanting to help them, they will have a greater desire to learn as well. Nobody want's to just be preached to for 30 minutes, they want to be listened to, admired, cared about, and helped. We also have talked a lot about following up with your investigators. It should be one of the most important things. A good question I like to ask is "do you remember what we talked about last time?" and if they don't, then I will help them remember and review or reteach if necessary. The same for commitments. We have been taught that if our investigators dont keep their commitments, it is largely our fault. We need to become better at helping them complete their commitments. Because if they are willing to commit to it, they are willing to do it, but just may need another reminder, or may need some more help. For instance, we had a fireside where a member of the Seventy said that he encouraged missionaries to have investigators commit to a specific time they will read or do what we ask, and then, call them after to see if they have and if they have any questions. Or, if we are able to be in the area, to drop by and read or do it with them. They have talked about how important it is to read the Book of Mormon with our investigators because this way, we can help them see how we study the Book of Mormon instead of just reading it. I did this in my last lesson and it was really great!  We just read a verse, then talked about it, then read the next 1 or 2 and talked about those, then kept going. This helps them to get more of the context as well instead of just the best verse or 2 from the chapter. We understand the context, but they often have NO idea, so it loses a lot of the power when you take little snippets out of the Scriptures without introducing them and talking about why that thing was said. 

I am so excited to get my new companion this week!!!! I have been saving a tim tam for him for 2 weeks! We are going to have tim tam slams together hehehehe :) it's going to be great! Also, I really think that my studies will improve because i dont take nearly as long as the sisters to eat and wont have to be handed off to the english when Sister Larson has another appointment, or needs to sleep during gym time or something else the Doctor has prescribed. Having a companion is REALLY nice here, ive noticed that! I know some companionships get along better than others, but having to constantly tag along with the English and not be able to do language study as effectively and such has been a trial this past week so I am really pumped to get my new companion and help him learn quickly while also helping me learn quickly. We have this new program to help us all learn better. We are to bear our testimony once everyday in cantonese to someone who doesn't speak cantonese, and at meal times, one of us will only speak cantonese and the other 2 have to translate. It's great because the English like to try to give us tricky words or test us by saying something complicated, so it really gets our brains going! :) I'm excited for this because I feel like i've been improving but I think this will help us really "take flight" in our language abilities. I Cant wait until I dream in Cantonese for the first time. I really hope that it's while im still here!!!  Love you all soooooooo much!!!! Thanks for your love, prayers, and support. You mean the world to me! Teaching about families all the time reminds me of how grateful I am to have a family that will be together for Eternity!
Elder Shafer